21 Jun 2012

Maori Party eyes Matariki as a national event

7:19 pm on 21 June 2012

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is calling for all New Zealanders to recognise Matariki as part of their national identity.

Maori Party MPs are drafting a bill that would further promote Matariki and in some places, Puanga.

For some Maori, the rising of the star cluster Matariki (Pleiades to the ancient Greeks) signals the new year, but in regions where there is not a clear view of Matariki, the signal of the new year is the rising of Puanga (Rigel - part of the Orion constellation).

Matariki is a day for all New Zealanders to be proud of their cultural heritage, she says. After the last election the Maori Party put forward the idea of further recognising Matariki in a proposed cultural heritage bill, and its MPs plan to put the bill in the next ballot for members' bills to be debated at Parliament.

Ms Turia is praising Te Papa Tongarewa, and the Ministry of Education and Te Puni Kokiri for their work in promoting and celebrating Matariki.

Maori Tourism is keen on elevating Matariki as a day for everyone to mark.

The organisation's director of operations, Butch Bradley says Matariki could become a festival that brings the whole country together.

He says Matariki isn't exclusive to Maori and believes all cultures in New Zealand can enjoy it.

The Governor-General has praised the spirit of all New Zealanders in his Matariki message.

Sir Jerry Mateparae says Matariki is a celebration for everyone and a chance to say thanks for good things that have happened over the last year.

In 2009, then-Maori Party MP Rahui Katene put forward a Matariki Day Bill which proposed the Maori New Year should become a national public holiday but it was rejected in Parliament.